June 13, 1941 - August 26, 2013

20130827_161736092_1When Thomas A. Baradziej walked into the room, those in his company felt energy, an enthusiastic spontaneity. This was just one example of who Thomas was and how he impacted those around him. Thomas was a clever and gregarious person who always sought out the finest attributes in other people. It was as if Thomas wanted to share all of their experiences, revel in their lives and celebrate their discoveries. Thomas was tireless and had boundless enthusiasm that would serve him well throughout his life.

       He was the son of Walter and Mary Baradziej. Thomas was raised in West Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Always at the ready with a good joke, he grew up to be quite a humorous person. While some who knew Thomas might describe him as an idealist, his friends and family understood well that Thomas was always in pursuit of life’s endless possibilities and opportunities available to him.

      Thomas was raised with two siblings. He had one older sister, Marie, and one older brother, Jack. Thomas was very accepting and supportive of his family. He was perceived as the central person in his family in terms of keeping communication open between the family members. Whenever discord or tension arose within the home, Thomas was typically the member who brought about resolution and harmony. These traits served Thomas well in his adult life and, along with his wit, outgoing personality, and understanding of others, drew the admiration of many who knew him.

      As a young boy, Thomas was able to empathize and identify with a vast array of people and personality types. This quality drew him into a diverse group of friends and acquaintances. Thomas was intelligent and had little trouble getting along with his peers. He was almost always the first to jump in when it came to playing games or participating in other childhood activities. Thomas took part in baseball, football, and basketball. In his spare time he liked playing in the woods and camping out. Thomas had the ability to find amusement with almost any activity he and the many childhood friends he shared might discover.

      During his high school years, Thomas responded enthusiastically to any new project and was regularly in search of one adventure after another. He graduated from West Hazleton High School in 1963. Thomas was a very good student, and generally did well in his courses. Thomas absorbed as much as he could from all of his teachers and was consistently able to tackle conceptual and abstract problems, using his imagination to master his assignments. For Thomas, school often became just an extension of playtime, thanks to his ability to turn just about anything into a game. Classmates considered Thomas a good listener, knowing that when necessary, they could go to him to discuss just about anything.

      Thomas did well in college, as a result of his comfort level with tackling new theories and his love of learning. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Bloomsburg University. He also pursued graduate school, earning his Masters degree from Trenton State College. Thomas was very adaptable, a quality that helped him make the transition from high school to college with little difficulty. As a result, Thomas’s problem solving skills and thirst for new knowledge almost guaranteed that he enjoyed virtually every class he took. Thomas was always in quest of new things to learn and experience.

      On July 11, 1972 Thomas married Nancy Perry at Maternity BVM Parish of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Thomas’s skill at “building bridges” played an important role in his ability to make his new family happy. He was quite sensitive towards Nancy’s needs, showing his constant concern and fondness. Thomas was tenderhearted and sensitive, qualities that served him well in helping to nurture his family.

      Thomas was a natural and creative parent who was willing to provide his family with all sorts of new and interesting experiences. For Thomas, parenting was a particularly enjoyable and pleasurable part of his life. Every activity, from chores to bedtime routines, became a game in the Baradziej home. Thomas’s skill at understanding his children’s feelings, his sensitivity to their needs, and his gift for gentle persuasion enabled him to find novel solutions to any problem or situation that might crop up. Thomas was blessed with three children: three sons, Anthony, Michael and Greg. They were also blessed with three grandchildren, Lindsay, Wesley and Nathan.

      Thomas was uplifted by new ideas and was excited by life’s possibilities, traits that made him an exceptional worker. His primary occupation was High School Biology Teacher. He was employed for almost three decades by the Bristol Township School District. Thomas was enterprising, inventive and working against deadlines seemed to energize him. Thomas had the uncanny ability to identify a win/win solution to just about any problem, possibly because of his gift for insight. Thomas’s fellow workers saw him as a supporter and a mentor.

      Thomas was an Air Force veteran. Through his hard work and dedication, he achieved the rank of Airman First Class. His fellow soldiers could count on him for being able to make adjustments to any situation as needed.

      Because Thomas loved to have a broad variety of activities in his life, he took advantage of the opportunity to pursue numerous hobbies. His favorite pursuits were playing golf, cards, going to the horse races and casinos and he loved all of the Philadelphia sports teams. Thomas had a knack for being able to multi-task in order to create time for all of his favorite pastimes. However, Thomas’s ever-present concern for others always took precedent.

      Thomas derived much satisfaction from participating in and watching sports. His charisma, supportive nature and ability to improvise when called upon to do so all made perfect attributes for enjoying a great many sporting activities. In high school, Thomas played baseball, football and basketball. Recreational sports included bowling and golf. Thomas was also something of a sports fan and enjoyed watching his favorite events whenever he got the opportunity. Tops on his list were golf and the Phillies, Eagles, Sixers and Flyers.

      Throughout his life, Thomas was actively involved in professional and community organizations. He was compassionate, accommodating and quick to move into action. Always able to build a consensus, Thomas seemed to be the person smack dab in the middle of things, working to get things done. Those who had the opportunity to work with Thomas usually agreed that when you were involved in an organization with him, it was as entertaining as anything you could imagine. Throughout his later years, Thomas was an active member of the Knights of Columbus.

      Thomas was a man who was dedicated and devoted to his faith. He was a member of St. John the Evangelest Roman Catholic Church for 33 years. He was sympathetic and able to empathize with others and he used these qualities to the fullest while working tirelessly for his beliefs.

      Though he never did anything solely for individual recognition, Thomas’s ingenuity, resourcefulness, and selflessness, earned him accolades for his many lifelong efforts. One of the awards he was most proud of was being inducted to the West Hazleton High School Sports Hall of Fame for Basketball and Football.

      Thomas’s love of improvising in his daily life was a perfect fit for his enjoyment of traveling. Excited about seeing changing scenery and constantly looking for the enjoyment life could offer, Thomas took his vacations seriously, well, as seriously as he possibly could. Favorite vacations included a trip to the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada, and the trip to Ship Bottom at the Jersey Shore with the whole family.

       He adapted and, like everything in his life, made it satisfying. Because he was such a flexible person and able to adjust to any situation, retirement was just another enjoyable change of pace for Thomas to master. In retirement, he found new pleasure in spending time with his grandchildren. Even in retirement, Thomas continued to stay in touch with his old friends and like always, made plenty of new ones.

      Thomas Baradziej passed away on August 26, 2013 at Aria Hospital in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. He is survived by his wife Nancy; his children Anthony, Michael and Greg; his grandchildren Lindsay, Wesley and Nathan, and his brother Jack and his sister Marie. Services were held at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Morrisville, Pennsylvania. Thomas was laid to rest in Washington Crossing National Cemetery in Newtown, Pennsylvania.

      There was always a certain style and inventiveness to Thomas. He was a dynamic, self-expressive person who was forever looking to celebrate the endless possibilities life had to offer. He had a knack for being clever, creative and witty, and for others, was a joy to be around. While he was often fiercely independent, it seemed as if many others looked to Thomas Baradziej for inspiration, leadership, wisdom and even courage. Thomas was always more than willing to share life’s experiences with his loved ones.